Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Resigned from EC

Today I resigned from the SE/EE Executive Committee of the Java Community Process. I lasted about a year before giving up hope that the ECs would ever do anything meaningful.

The last straw for me was Oracle's failure to address the ambiguous licensing terms in JSRs 336 and 337 (the Java SE7/8 umbrella JSRs) before the EC had to vote on them. At first I abstained, but I was so dismayed by Oracle's silence that I changed my vote to No, joining the Apache Software Foundation and Google.

Several of the other EC members expressed their own disappointment while voting Yes. I'm reasonably certain that the bulk of the Yes votes were due to contractual obligations rather than strongly-held principles. It's not that I'm shocked, shocked that votes can be bought, but it finally made it clear to me that my vote was worthless.

Add to that Oracle's expressed intent to proceed with the SE7/8 JSRs whatever the outcome of the vote, and one can only conclude that the SE/EE EC is never going to be more than a rubber stamp for Oracle. (The belligerent tone with which this message was delivered does not come across in the public minutes, but it was loud and clear over my phone connection.)

That's not to say that I'm against the technical aspects of the JSRs. In fact, I'm a member of the Expert Group for JSR 334 ("Project Coin") and I'm participating in discussions about some of the library-related work on JSR 335 ("Project Lambda"). I think these are both good projects that will ultimately be beneficial to the Java language and libraries.

But here's a funny thing: To my own surprise, I'm coming to believe something heretical, that it actually is not all that crucial for Java to move forward, at least not to the constituency I felt that I represented on the EC, the tens of thousands of Java developers who don't work for a big company with an Oracle contract.

The big boys want big apparent forward motion because it means more stuff to sell, more contracts and control. As a result, we are whipped to a frenzy with messages (both subliminal and explicit) that Java is falling behind, losing mind-share, being lapped by C#, anything to sell the idea that more is desperately needed, when in fact most folks could make do with a lot less.

So while I think things like Project Coin and Project Lambda are worth working on, the Java ecosystem is already so amazingly rich that the absence of these features (and of all the other good things planned for SE7 and SE8) in practice doesn't get in the way of real progress for developers like me, who just want to put together maintainable, type-safe programs, taking advantage of field-tested readily-available libraries and frameworks.

It's nice to be back in the real world, writing Java code. Here's a partial list of what I'm using, besides Java:

Joda Time
YUI Compressor